Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Principles of democratic communism

Democratic communism begins with a truly democratic state*, with constitutional limitations on its power and checks and balances. The democratic communist state consists of three major institutions. The people and their delegates set policy. The civil service implements policy. The judiciary ensures that policy and its implementation is reasonable, lawful, and constitutional. Unlike the modern republican** state, there is no separate executive; although the civil service implements policy, it does not have the same policy-making powers employed by republican presidents and prime ministers.

*I mean "state" as those institutions with a collective monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.
**I mean "republican" in the sense of a state where the people elect
trustee representatives; trustee representatives have the authority to act in secret, are not immediately accountable to the people, and can use their offices for economic, social, and political privilege.

The people comprise all citizens, as defined by the constitution. No citizen may be involuntarily excluded from participation except for medical incapacity and by due process of law. Where practical, the people set policy by direct democracy. Where direct democracy is impractical, the people appoint delegates to act on their behalf. Delegates must act transparently: they may not keep any secrets from the people. Delegates are immediately accountable: a majority of the people whom a delegate represents may at any time recall that delegate. Delegates cannot accumulate or exercise privilege: their pay is fixed by law and must not exceed ordinary workers' wages, and delegates cannot accept any other direct or indirect economic compensation during or after their services as delegates.

The civil service implements policy. The people cannot act directly; they must direct the civil service to implement a policy. The civil service cannot implement any new policies or procedures without explicit, public approval from the people. The civil service must act transparently: they cannot keep secrets from the people except where information affects a criminal investigation in progress (and the information must be made public when someone is charged, when the investigation is abandoned, or after a fixed period of time), or when the information would give immediate tactical advantage to a hostile or potentially hostile foreign state. The civil service must be independent of the people: the people cannot arbitrarily affect the promotion or retention of anyone in the civil service. The people can intervene in the civil service only when a member of the civil service is insubordinate, when he or she refuses to carry out the policy of the people when it is possible to do so. All of the people's interventions must be by due process of law. A member of the civil service can be internally fired, demoted, or have his or her pay reduced only by due process of law.

The police and the military are special branches of the civil service. The police are responsible for actually coercing people within the geographical boundaries of the country; the military is responsible for protecting the geographical boundaries of the country from foreign actors. All* citizens must serve, and only citizens may serve, as "on the ground" members of the police and/or the military (i.e. patrol officers and private soldiers), under the supervision of officers who are members of the police or military civil service. The person who actually holds the baton or the rifle must be a citizen. It must always be an affirmative defense for insubordination by a citizen than an order is illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral; if a citizen asserts such a defense, his or her case must be heard by the civil judiciary and in no case may an officer implement summary justice.

*Exceptions for religious or moral reasons are a topic for future debate.

The judiciary defines and implements due process of law. The state may exercise violence only with the specific assent of the judiciary: an individual, for example, may be arrested only with approval of a judge and imprisoned or otherwise coerced only after a judicial trial. Where prior approval of coercion is impractical (e.g. "exigent circumstances"), the judiciary must in every case exercise specific post hoc review. In general, "due process" must include the ordinary western standards: an impartial judge, a jury of citizens, an adversarial process with guaranteed competent legal representation of all parties, publicly declared and objectively determinable legal standards, general applicability of laws to all people, and the prohibition of ex post facto laws and "bills of attainder".

A judge may also act as an inquisitor (as both judge and prosecutor, without the presumption of innocence) against any delegate of the people or any member of the civil service reasonably suspected of illegal activity or official malfeasance.

Judges must be generally acceptable and independent. No single faction of the people may ever completely control the appointment or promotion of any judge. Judges may always sanctioned, punished, or impeached for illegal conduct, but no judge may be arbitrarily removed from any single case during its process. No judge may be arbitrarily sanctioned for his or her legal actions or decisions in any case. Judges responsible for the review of other judges' actions must serve fixed terms and cannot be arbitrarily removed from office during that term. Judges primarily responsible for evaluating the constitutionality of laws must serve lifetime appointments.

The constitution specifies the organization of the state, described above, and creates specific limitations on the actions of the state. The specific limitations should include those presently implemented in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution* and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, with the specific exception that protection afforded property be construed as protection of physical objects in the immediate possession and use of an individual.

*If the constitution specifies a unitary state, then provisions of the Bill of Rights pertaining to the separation of powers between the federal and state governments would be inapplicable.

The people and their delegates, the civil service, and the judiciary, operating under the restrictions and with the legitimacy of the constitution, comprise the state.

The state may regulate the conduct of individuals using violent force. All regulation must take the form of generally applicable laws, with objectively determinable standards, acting forward in time. No law may explicitly or implicitly single out any individual or group of the people for applicability, except where membership in that group is voluntary. All coercion must have the primary purpose only of preventing recurrence of prohibited behavior by an individual (or guaranteeing future compliance of required behavior) or ensuring compliance in the future, and efficacy of these purposes must be objectively determinable.

The state is responsible for all monetary and fiscal policy, and may not delegate the creation or implementation of monetary and fiscal policy in any way, in whole or in part, outside the state. The civil service may reject monetary or fiscal policy if there is reason to believe that policy would result in any nominal deflation, or nominal inflation in excess of 50% per annum. The civil service may delay for additional review any monetary or fiscal policy that would result in excessive inflation less than 50% p.a., but must comply if the people or their delegates affirm the policy.

The state is also entirely responsible for the management of financial capital. Only the state may provide money, property or any other valuable consideration for any future consideration in excess of the nominal value of the consideration. In other words, only the state may loan money at interest or provide capital with an expected future dividend or value in excess of the original nominal value*. The state may arbitrarily loan or invest money to one or more citizens to facilitate economic activity. When the state provides for private economic production, the group of citizens must internally manage the production democratically, with all participants enfranchised. The state may also directly engage in economic activity. If the state directly engages in economic activity, it must reasonably capitalize private individuals to engage in the same activity, and ensure that private individuals can compete fairly with the state's operations.

*De minimus, the state does not care if one person lends another $20. For larger amounts, if, for example, one person lends another $1,000, the lender may demand only $1,000 in the future.

The state must employ any individual who requests employment, at wages sufficient to raise a family in civilized dignity and comfort, but without excessive luxury, if two adult individuals work full time. An individual may receive request as many working hours as he or she requests, up to reasonable physical limitations. The state has arbitrary discretion over whether to provide employment less more than the hours necessary to provide civilized dignity and comfort to a single individual.

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